So. Chapter one. My unabashedly smitten self was in deep, oh so deep, with the love for Nik and Ben.
Author: John Wiltshire
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Deana C. Jamroz
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Nikolas and Ben discover that bonds aren’t forged with blood or scars but in the hearts of men strong enough to love.
Ben discovers the truth of the adage, ‘be careful what you wish for’. Nikolas has exorcised his demons, but when they end up stranded in Russia, the monster inside needs to be let loose. Siberia in winter isn’t a place for good men. There is nothing Nikolas won’t do to keep Ben alive.
Home again, Nikolas then faces an enemy he can’t defeat: Ben Rider himself. Discovering a new family, Ben realizes he’s been living too long in the shadows cast by Nikolas’s all-consuming love. For the first time, life apart from Nikolas is possible. Is Nikolas strong enough to let Ben go?
I cannae help it! These flawed human beings never give up. Ever. There’s a lot to be said for determination that is motivated and fueled by love.
Once again, Wiltshire has surprised me with the initial main event that kicks things off in this story. What the hell would happen next? I probably should know better than to proffer that query, especially having now survived three years and three books with Nik and Ben. Speaking of, Nik and Ben are definitely Nik and Ben, and more.
Nikolas kept his hands on Ben’s face, tilting it towards him so Ben wasn’t tempted to look down. “I don’t tell you enough how much I love you,” he murmured in Danish, their private language now. “You must remember to remind me to tell you. You’re very remiss in this. Who can I rely on in this life if I don’t have you, hmm?”
Wiltshire’s writing gets more exciting and increasingly focused with each book. My heart gets to racing during the unanticipated action scenes. He hi-speed-motors it right to my heart with the intimacy between Nik and Ben. He is constantly feeding the tension, maintaining my connection to it and the characters. As they learn, I learn.
You’ll notice a theme here: Wiltshire is ridiculously good with the surprising turns in his stories and that continues in this book. Both in plotting and typically human decision making, I’m continually shoved into unsuspected directions. This is one of the things I look for most in the stories I choose to read and, for me, makes for some mighty fine storytelling.
The cast of supporting characters is interesting, curious and random, just like life. The greatest thing is that they all play very specific roles that aren’t at all random. Emilia (Emilia!), Squeezy, Radulf (ok, ok, he’s a main character, who are we kidding here), Kate, Phillipa and the rest. Emilia, though, truly, she feels like a mirror for both Nik and Ben, as well as a forecast.
When I look back at everything that happened in this book, it’s a fantastic mash up of a survival story, a deepening romance and the beginnings of more and more a mysterious thing. This is also a story about the family you choose. It’s also brutal and violent, all of it buffeted by loyalty, tenderness and acceptance.
To be manhandled as though a ragdoll made for Wiltshire’s pleasure, I loved being yanked back and forth between melting into a now familiar and happily undignified puddle of goo, thanks to the ceaseless tenderness and heat that are Nik and Ben, and the intense danger and tension that ripped ragged and jagged edges all throughout this story. He has this delicious ability to make it so easy to sink into any scene, especially between these two guys. I had no choice but to surrender, so I did, with pleasure and great relish.
One plot point was pretty easy for me to have figured out from the jump but what it then led to, well, I didn’t see that coming at all.
I feel I can’t say enough about the relationship between Nik and Ben – are you tired of me saying their names? You’d best not be! All of the back and forth, the successes and failures, the progress and loss all feels very natural, never trite or false.
I also can’t say enough about the surprises. Really. This was an engaging and unforgettable reading experience. Anytime I was away from the book, Nik and Ben forced me to miss them. Yep, they did. The bastards. To say they were put through the gnarliest of ringers would just about cover it. At this point, though, more often the external forces were to blame than anything internal, between them.
Finally, I have an official announcement: I’m so very glad that my life will never be without Ben and Nik because, well, it would be a most horrid existence. Dramatic much? Feels familiar. side eyes them both
These two, their hearts, they’ve gone and stolen mine, only to hand it back with their spirits forever attached.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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